Environmental enteropathy: critical implications of a poorly understood condition

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March 5, 2013 by WASHplus

Trends in Molecular Medicine June 2012, Vol. 18, No. 6

Environmental enteropathy: critical implications of a poorly understood condition

Poonum S. Korpe and William A. Petri, Jr. Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908-1337, USA

Environmental enteropathy (also called tropical enteropathy) is a subclinical condition caused by constant
fecal–oral contamination and resulting in blunting of intestinal villi and intestinal inflammation. Although these histological changes were discovered decades ago, the clinical impact of environmental enteropathy is just starting to be recognized. The failure of nutritional interventions and oral vaccines in the developing world may be attributed to environmental enteropathy, as the intestinal absorptive and immunologic functions are significantly deranged. Here we review the existing literature and examine potential mechanisms of pathogenesis for this poorly understood condition.

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